Ron Oren, Principal Strategy Analyst at Transport Systems Catapult
Ron talks about using SharpCloud to develop an online repository, to bring together data, materials and analysis relevant to the Technology Strategy, to enable collaboration and the exchange of ideas.
The business problem
We were publishing a new complex strategy, The Technology Strategy for Intelligent Mobility, to champion and foster a shared vision and direction for all organisations interested in this fast growing market. The strategy captures eight Intelligent Mobility goals that provide clear direction for all those working in this field. Each goal is associated with a technology roadmap and considers potential developments over the next 15 years. With this number of moving parts, we were looking for a way to present it simply, intuitively and practically.
Why have other tools not helped?
We were originally using a combination of PowerPoint and Word documents which didn't really work as the information was too complex and we realised we would be dependent on everyone looking at it in the same way. There were multiple narratives through these documents that people could take and anything static like a powerpoint deck wasn't going to allow that, and it didn't make sense to produce multiple static decks, not least because we weren't sure what the different narrative paths might be.
After some investigation and seeing a similar use case on the SharpCloud public gallery, a colleague suggested trying SharpCloud, particularly due to it's flexibility, quick set up and ease of use.
How is SharpCloud solving the problem?
Within SharpCloud we have produced a set of nested stories providing different levels of detail, within one big story which functions as a dashboard or table of contents. This high level view is supported by detailed research that addresses market alignment, UK capabilities and roadmaps.
Underneath each of the items in the main story is a second story which provides further detail and beneath some of those, third or fourth level stories which provide a lot more detail for those who require even more comprehensive or specific technical information."It's really useful to have the ability to split the different levels of detail so that someone at board level can just access the high level summaries and an engineer or business analyst can dig deeper to find the information they require."
People can easily navigate their way around the story looking for relevant information, always linking back to the table of contents in an instant. This is so much easier to do in a SharpCloud story compared to a large word document.
SharpCloud has basically enabled us to provide different levels of information for different people's requirement far more easily, and a platform for us to share work completed so far, outline future plans and for people to collaborate around the content interactively. We worked together with an industry group on one of the lower level roadmap stories, as they volunteered to put more detail behind a roadmap, and through SharpCloud, they commented on it and updated the content, which was really useful.
The online repository is a powerful visualisation and always-on discussion tool which will help to tell the Intelligent Mobility story and influence where efforts should be focused.
I personally find SharpCloud intuitive to work with and being able to move items around manually is helpful. However, the ability to visualise data which naturally lives in big unmanageable spreadsheets and cut it up different ways and view it from different perspectives is one of the biggest differentiators of SharpCloud.Being able to flick from one view or perspective to another so easily makes it very quick to view the same data from different angles.
Relationships can quickly become an unmanageable spiders web. However, a really nice feature is the ability to isolate a relationship and simplify the complex picture for people instantly. By clicking on an individual item, you immediately highlight the connections and if there are many different types of relationships between the items in your story, you can use relationship attributes and tags to identify and filter by different combinations. This is incredibly useful when you have a ridiculously complex picture.
For me personally SharpCloud has raised my profile within the industry as it's given me the opportunity to show complex information to people in a convenient and simple way, which has helped to position me as an expert in the field.
Similarly, for the organisation, just being able to cut through a complex landscape and show simple paths, has helped us to become trailblazers that show the way for others.
Additionally, we have used SharpCloud in a successful project for Highways England. They were really impressed with SharpCloud and pleased with the work we had done, which additionally reflected well on me as being the person who introduced them to this interesting tool.
Whilst SharpCloud hasn't helped me to personally save time, as I've been heavily involved in setting up the stories, the benefits of using SharpCloud accrue to others. For example, Highways England, are now exploring how they can save time and increase their efficiency through managing some of their innovation activity through SharpCloud."SharpCloud has always been received positively and the people I work with consider it to be a great tool."